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Drug court celebrates first year
Jay Stewart 2
Judge Jay Stewart - photo by File photo
In celebration of National Drug Court Month, the Liberty County drug court had a ceremony Monday morning at the Liberty County Courthouse. The Honorable Judge D. Jay Stewart presided.
The ceremony highlighted the court’s first year of operation as well as the accomplishments of many of its participants.
National Drug Court Month is coordinated on a national level by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, which was established in 1994 to assist in the planning, implementation and operation of drug courts.
This year, drug courts throughout the nation are celebrating National Drug Court Month with the theme “All Rise: Putting a Drug Court Within Reach of Every Person in Need.” What started in a Florida courtroom 20 years ago has become a successful strategy for dealing with substance-abusing offenders.
Like the other 24,000 operational drug courts in the United States, the Liberty County drug court hears cases of offenders charged with drug-related crimes. Drug courts relieve already overwhelmed court dockets, placing offenders in an environment where they undergo treatment and counseling, submit to frequent and random drug testing, make regular appearances before a judge and are monitored closely for program compliance. Graduated sanctions, including jail time, are imposed for noncompliance. Conversely, incentives are applied for continual compliance.
Research has shown that drug courts work better than jail, prison, probation or treatment alone. The Liberty County program is a 24-month, intensive outpatient, chemical-dependency treatment program for criminal offenders that is supervised by the superior court. There are currently 36 participants in the Liberty County program.
Nationally, 75 percent of drug court graduates never see another pair of handcuffs. A recent study by the Department of Justice found a cost benefit of $3.36 for every $1 invested in treating drug-addicted offenders
“Drug courts are one of the most researched criminal-justice programs in our justice system,” said NADCP CEO West Huddleston. “The scientific community has put drug court under the microscope and concluded that they work. In fact, drug courts significantly reduce drug abuse and crime and do so at less expense than any other justice strategy.”

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